Mariam Hassan: The voice of the Sahrawis


During the cultural forum of Barcelona, all the world's cultures came to contact each other, and to make a wide panorama of variety and conventionality.

The Sahrawi participatation, as I know, was only through the voice of Mariam Hassan and her small group; her brother who is one of the best guitarist and one or two women. That was a lot.  Mariam and her group had performed various concerts during the forum in different places in Barcelona, and will do the same in various Spanish's cities lately, but without the knowledge of any one here in Spain or there in Sahara. Those in Western Sahara who had information about the good performance of Mariam and her group during the forum are numberless, if are no one, and I am among them despite that I am living near Barcelona.

What happened exacly to me ? during a short pause for a coffee in a bar, when I was waching the TV , I had got astonished when I discovered that Mariam Hassan is on the top-list of one channel's best singers participating in the forum. The channel belongs,as I think, to Finlandia or Greece.  The language of the mentioned channale is English, but they translate it (under picture) into their own dialect or idioma. The presenter of the reportage said that Mariam ( he mentioned her name incorrectly) is from Africa's Sahara, and he said that he could not find anyone who knows information about her. He joined her name with a recent personal self-picture, but without curriculum vitae as he did with the others singers he included in his reportage. The channel is not guilty when it could not find a curruculum of Mariam, the Sahrawis voice and best forever singer  .The channel did the right when it chose Mariam as a talent singer among various others, but all of us did wrong .We did nothing to Mariam ( our voice)  to make her as she is really. She is one of the best singers in Western Sahara, if she is not on their top. We consider her as the voice of all the Sahrawis into/outside Western Sahara since more than thirty years. Such consideration is a good thing, but it is not enough. We did not encourage her to performe better; no personal voice-type, no concerts and no less consideration except when we need to listen to her voice in the national anniversary and annual cultural carnavals.

Mariam started singing since the first days of the Sahrawi revolution against Spain, and she continued her difficult way against Moroccan occupation. Her voice inspired a lot of people to join the Saharawi revolution against Spain, and still inspires the long standing revolution into the occupied territory. Nowadays, some Saharwis say" We heard the name of the Sahrawi revolution for the first time only through Mariam Hassan voice and songs." Her voice recruited a lot of young men and women into the Polisario ranks. She called on them to take the arms and climb the mountains to liberate their homeland .  After the cruel  Moroccan occupation to W. Sahara, she started a new campaign to make the voice of Sahrawis, through her voice, well heard through the world. She performed around all the world; In Africa, Asia, Europe and latin america. She used only her own language, the Sahrawi traditional songs and her dialect, but everywhere she performed on , the world got astonished for her clear voice and her traditional clothes, and not for the meaning of the words she is singing on.

She overcame her personal conditions, her situation, and every obstacle faced her during a long career of glory. She still stands to defy more other obstacles .

The Sahrawis sleep every night listening to her clear voice on the air; for them, her voice is the last victory they still enjoy since the cease-fire in 1991. They forgot many things, but the voice of Mariam stays into their ears and hearts; they could not forgot the voice that overwhelmed the calm wide desert around them. Nowadays, her songs are the begining of all the national radio programs, all performs and all melodies. Originally,she is self-made, but now she is professional in her own art; the Sahrawi traditional art of defy.

We are to blame for our less efforts to make her well known in the world as she is really. When I saw her for few time on the foreign screen, I remembered all her songs I still remember, and I felt the taste of bitterness into my heart.


>> see the web of NUBENEGRA: Mariam Hassan and Nayim Alal